Stage Two: Wandering to the U.S. and Thailand via Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey from Skopje, Macedonia was a really smooth flight. Upon arrival you go through the same mad rush on the aircraft most people experience; people clambering to get their luggage out first and filling the aisles before the doors of the aircraft were open. Problem was on this flight, the aircraft wasn’t even near the gate and had to taxi further. Despite three or four announcements by the aircrew, in three different languages, these people were adamant standing their ground in the aisle. Unbelievable. So, despite these individuals who for some reason would not heed the directions of the flight crew (the ‘me syndrome’?) we continued to taxi to our gate.
Upon arrival it was off to the transit area and the long wait for my early morning flight to NYC. I didn’t need a transit visa; however, some countries do so it’s best to check before you decide to transit Istanbul. You can also buy a tourist Visa at the airport to go out into the city if you have time, but this is at the discretion of the immigration officers. I had the time for sure for a quick trip, but the timing was off since it would be in the middle of the night and I didn’t want to risk it. So for the next ten hours I hunkered in for the long night and roamed the terminal taking pictures and started some blog writing.
This is a coffee shop / restaurant across from the Duty Free Shop that has electrical outlets to recharge your gear and if your lucky you can pick up a free internet signal as well. You need the two pronged plug end with the rounded tips similar to the German electrical plugs.
(Not Everybody…. )
The terminal itself has the usual duty free shops, jewelry shops, luggage shops, electronics and book shops, and souvenir shops. Turkey’s currency is the Turkish Lira. Ironically though, everything in the duty free shops and the rest of the shops are way-over-priced in Euros. So, in my opinion, if you don’t want to be ripped off avoid the shops all together unless you really believe you need something else to carry. The eateries consist of “western” fast food and local cuisine and they accept Turkish Lira which can be obtained from a currency exchange office in the terminal area after passport control near the previously mentioned coffee shop / restaurant.
They do let you sample “Turkish Delights” which are candies at this one gift shop before you buy them. They have different varieties to choose from and make a quick snack if you get there early enough before they put them away. I guess they have have figured out too many people are eating them, but not buying them. :-)
Ataturk Airport is a great place to people watch because of the diverse groups of people transiting this airport. They do have a hotel in the airport but from what I understand it is kind of pricey which is to be expected. Check out the airport link at the beginning of this post for further information and other offerings.
I do praise Turkish Airlines for their great service, entertainment choices (sorry no belly dancers ) and food during the flights I took with them. Well worth checking out their fares.
To be continued….